Contemplation on the inside story of ‘France Terror’


By Peter Jaegeul Song
Asia N Reporter

SEOUL: Living in Europe from the early 2000s for about ten years during my teenage years, I had an opportunity to experience the diversity of Europe. In particular, I had witnessed how prosperity through coexistence positively influenced European citizens.

At the time, I was relatively able to enjoy freedom in united Europe. However, after I left the U.K. in 2014, the situation in Europe has changed drastically. Divisions and terrors continue to occur. The representative cases will be Brexit and a series of terrors in France.

For the past month, indiscriminate terrors of Islam extremist followers occurred in succession. On October 29, which is the birthday of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, three people had lost their lives due to a beheading terror act that took place in Notre Dame Cathedral in Nice. Two weeks earlier, a teacher at a middle school near Paris showed an editorial cartoon of the Charlie Hebdo weekly lampooning Muhammad and was beheaded.

How did Europe, a place where diversity and freedom created harmony, become a target of Islam extremists? I believe ‘rash integration’ is one of the main reasons. Temperament of people born and raised in other cultures does not change easily. Thinking that a decision of several political leaders can change their culture is no more than arrogance.

Though the EU achieved ‘political and economic integration’ in a relatively short period of time and is receiving historical appraisals, the ‘social and cultural side effects’ derived from it are still ongoing.

Going to middle, high school, college and graduate school in Europe, I often had a chance to meet and converse with non-Christian teenagers from non-European countries such as Asia and Africa. While interacting with them, I frequently felt that the slogan ‘United in Diversity’ is significantly estranged from reality.

I came to occasionally worry whether the value system and ideology of Europeans are forced upon foreigners. Despite having understood the European history and culture from a relatively young age as a Christian, I too often felt strained by the coerciveness of their attitude.

Especially the school’s teaching to respect ‘European values’ as a top priority was all more so. In reality, there were several occasions where Muslim friends who had studied with me put into action through refusing classes and other methods.

For Islamic students, European countries including the U.K. forcing European cultures or values instead of cultures of the place where they were born and raised must have been difficult to bear.

Seeing the recent series of situations, I am more than bitter to see my ‘blasphemous’ prediction that the time has come. Of course, regret over the lost innocent lives is much bigger.

I hope that European intellects take the recent events as an opportunity to once again concretely realize democratic values, including human rights and respect for diversity which they had been protecting.

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